Q&A September 2016

Photo Credit:  Bruria Hammer

Photo Credit: Bruria Hammer


In our upcoming Montsalvat, Melbourne Recital Centre and Cope-Williams Winery concerts we will be premiering Elena Kats-Chernin's Piano Quintet No. 1 "The Offering", commissioned with support from our wonderful friends, Chris Arnold and Margot Costanzo. Joining us for the performances will be pianist, Benjamin Martin.

We were delighted with Elena's responses to a little Q&A we presented her with, we hope you enjoy it too:

FQ: You are thought of so fondly by Australian audiences who claim you as their own. Do you feel the national pull of Australia, or is music more of an international pursuit?
EK-C: I certainly feel like I belong to Australia but music itself is a universal thing. I am always pleased that my music is played in many different countries, however when I am composing I am always thinking about my pieces being played in Australia and by Australian performers.

FQ: How do Australian audiences differ to those overseas?
EK-C: I think Australians have an open and eclectic attitude, not just to music but in general. I think our audiences enjoy the diversity and scope that we currently have in our contemporary music and I think it should always be encouraged and supported.

FQ: You mention that you often look at the scores of Shostakovich's preludes and fugues. What other composers have a spot on your music stand?
EK-C: I grew up hearing Shostakovich, he was a revered figure in Russia. I always loved not only his counterpoint and structure, but the depth and emotion he always evoked in me.
I have always admired Bach and Corelli, Schubert and Rachmaninoff. Many 20th Century composers, people like Ravel, like Gorecki, like Satie.

FQ: Your attention to the commissioning party of any given work is so thoughtful, how do different personalities infuse your composition?
EK-C: To me, the piece, the commissioners, the performers are all one. Each bounces off the other and the influence is always felt in the resulting work. When I am fulfilling a commission, I always pay a special attention to the personalities involved, the circumstances and intentions. And all of that plays a part in my thinking.

FQ: Do you always have music running through your head or are you able to switch it off?
EK-C: The quick answer is yes! I am forever imagining in music. I probably hear melodies and material as most people have daydreams or ruminations.
I don't think I do have an off button. And I don't think I really need one. I am happiest when I am working.

FQ: How has your creativity been affected by living in Australia?
EK-C: Australia has so much beauty and space. That can't help but influence your state of mind. I always appreciate the freedom and possibility I feel living and working in Australia.

FQ: What's your idea of a perfect day?
EK-C: I like to work every day. And for me that is my great privilege. I often start very early fuelled by coffee. If I had my way I would probably never leave my house.

For concert and booking information, click here.